Through my experience as professional Tango Argentino artist and educator I have come to the intuitive conclusion that practicing this art form can have a positive personal and social transformative impact on people's lives. I believe, as most artists do, that the power of the Tango lies in its embodied and relational nature. Tango practice requires a deep form of listening (to one’s and other bodies, to space and music) and of letting go (of rational thoughts and judgments). Moreover, you can’t dance the Tango on your own. You not only need a partner, but also a network of dancers. People may embrace this form of expression to fill an existential gap. But, when they go past the initial stage of enthusiasm or even addiction, they not only realize that there are no drawbacks, but they also start seeing how the Tango, as a discipline, has enabled a spontaneous process of learning and community development.
As an artist, I have decided to resume my graduate researcher career after having been exposed to Robin Nelson's and Alison Richards’ accounts of the growing importance of Performance Practice as Research (PaR) particularly in the UK, Northern European, Canadian and Australian academic contexts as a “third way”, independent from both quantitative and qualitative methodologies. After well over two decades of practice-based research in the performing arts, it is not unrealistic to think that the Tango could become a legitimate mode of inquiry through which an original type of artistic knowing could be produced. In putting my artistic practice in the broader intellectual and cultural context of a PhD project, my aim is to contribute to the PaR paradigm shift by formally developing a tango-based research methodology. To achieve this goal, I will need to address three main questions:
How can the role, identity and mode of inquiry of the tango artist and of the researcher coexist?
Is it possible to develop a methodological language capable of expressing the performative-poetic dimension of the Tango?
- What kind of alternative knowing would it be possible to produce if we could overcome the dualism between tango and graduate research practices and languages?